Healthcare Power of Attorney: What You Should Know

By  //  October 12, 2021

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Are you prepared to take care of your health when you get old or sick? Read more to know about healthcare power of attorney and why you should consider it.

Aging is a natural process. And with increasing age, our health starts to deteriorate as well. In a lot of cases, it is seen that people are incapable of making proper healthcare decisions for themselves at a certain point in life, maybe because of age or poor health. This is where healthcare power of attorney comes into play. This can be one of the most important and crucial decisions of your life. 

In this article, we have gathered all the information you need to have about healthcare power of attorney, what it is, what are the four types of power of attorney, and what you need to consider before getting one for yourself. 

What is the Healthcare Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney, as you probably know, is giving someone else the power to make legal or financial decisions on your behalf. Healthcare power of attorney is exactly the same: giving someone else the legal right to make health-related decisions for you when you are incapable of doing so.

This includes making decisions such as starting, withholding, or stopping any medical treatment or diagnostic procedures.

Types of Power of Attorney 

Power of Attorney is classified based on the types of decisions that one can make. There are usually 4 types.

General Power of Attorney 

When you give someone a general power of attorney, as the name suggests, it gives the person the power to make almost all decisions on your behalf: from opening financial accounts to managing personal finances, such as signing checks and selling properties.

However, if you pass away, become incapable of making decisions (due to mental illness, etc.), or the power is revoked by you, the power of attorney is terminated.

Durable Power of Attorney 

Unlike the general power of attorney, a durable power of attorney gives the right to the agent to keep making decisions even after you become incapacitated and unable to make conscious decisions. This is great when given to a person you can fully trust so that they can make the best financial or medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so.

Springing Durable Power of Attorney 

This is a type of power of attorney available in some states. This enables your agent to make decisions for you only under certain conditions. This becomes effective after you become unable to make decisions independently, for example, when you become incapacitated. A doctor will be required to certify that you are unable to consciously make decisions. 

Special or Limited Power of Attorney 

This gives the agent only limited or outlined power to make decisions on your behalf. This does not allow them to take all legal decisions for you as it is with general power of attorney. For example, you give the agent the right to make only one financial decision for you instead of all. This is also known as a special power of attorney. 

Here, you have the full freedom to terminate the power anytime you want. You can choose the length of time you want to give the power to an agent. For example, if you are going on a business trip for a month, you can give power of attorney to an agent for only that month. 

What You Should Consider Before Giving Healthcare Power of Attorney 

Giving someone else power of attorney is a big deal. You should be able to completely trust that person so that they don’t take advantage of your situation. Here are five things that you should always keep in mind before you choose to give someone your healthcare power of attorney. 

Healthcare Agent

This person takes every medical health-related decision for you. So it has to be someone you can trust with your life! In most cases, people choose to give power of attorney to someone from their family: spouse, children, or siblings. It is important that you talk to the person beforehand about major healthcare decisions like receiving chemotherapy, surgery, experimental treatments, psychotherapy, etc. This will allow that person to make the decisions that you want for yourself. 

HIPAA

HIPAA (Health Insurance Protection and Accountability Act) is a law that is made so that sensitive information regarding a patient is kept confidential without a patient’s knowledge or consent. Your healthcare power of attorney agent should have a HIPAA release so that they know everything about your health and can efficiently communicate with your doctor.

End-of-Life Decisions 

The person who has the healthcare power of attorney over you is responsible for making end-of-life decisions for you. If you need to have artificially provided food or water or stay in a vegetative state, the agent will make all these decisions. You can choose to customize your documents according to your religious beliefs. 

Organ Donation 

If you want to donate organs, you can always mention it in your power of attorney documents. This will be proof of your consent. If you haven’t thought about it much, you can also choose to leave it at your healthcare agent’s discretion. 

Right of Sepulcher

If you have some tight family situations, like a second marriage, it is only normal that both of the families may want to have your body in case you pass away. Luckily, you can designate who you want to make final arrangements with your healthcare power of attorney. 

Final Thoughts

Many people do not consider getting a healthcare power of attorney agent. This results in unnecessary dilemmas among family members in case something bad happens to you. Hence, planning ahead can save you a lot of time, money, and hassle. So always stay prepared for your own future and ensure proper care for your health.